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Božena Němcová

Božena Němcová (pronounced [ˈboʒɛna ˈɲɛmtsovaː]) (February 4, 1820, Vienna – January 21, 1862, Prague) was one of the most influential Czech writers of the final phase of the Czech National Revival movement.

Biography

She was born as Barbora Pankel in Vienna, the daughter of Johann Pankel from Lower Austria and Teresie Novotná, a maid of Bohemian origin. In her childhood she lived in the village of Ratibořice, where her grandmother Magdalena Novotná played an important part in her life. Němcová would later write her most famous novel with the main character inspired by her grandmother.When she was 17 years old, she married the 15-years-older Josef Němec, who worked as a customs officer and was therefore a state employee. The marriage was arranged by Barbora’s parents and became an unhappy one, as the married couple didn’t understand each other very well. Němec was said to be a rude and authoritative man. He was a Bohemian patriot, which his superiors didn’t like and they often transferred him to different locations. Later he lost his job. The family had 4 children and suffered from a lack of money. Němcová died in poverty, estranged from her husband. The Bohemian patriots arranged a magnificent funeral for her.

When she was 17 years old, she married the 15-years-older Josef Němec, who worked as a customs officer and was therefore a state employee. The marriage was arranged by Barbora’s parents and became an unhappy one, as the married couple didn’t understand each other very well. Němec was said to be a rude and authoritative man. He was a Bohemian patriot, which his superiors didn’t like and they often transferred him to different locations. Later he lost his job. The family had 4 children and suffered from a lack of money. Němcová died in poverty, estranged from her husband. The Bohemian patriots arranged a magnificent funeral for her.

Speculations on Božena Němcová’s real origin

Some authors question the birthdate (the preserved documents differ) and the real origin of Božena Němcová. According to one hypothesis Němcová could have been about 3 – 4 years older and an illegitimate daughter of the noblewoman Kateřina Zaháňská (1781–1839). Helena Sobková, a writer of popular-history books about Němcová, believes that she may have been the illegitimate daughter of Dorothea Talleyrand-Périgord (sister of Zaháňská), and Karel Clam-Martinic (1792–1840) which was born in 1816.

None of these speculations, however, have been definitely proved by serious historical research.

Novels

  • Podhorská vesnice
  • Babička (The Grandmother) (1855) – Němcová’s best-known novel about a young girl named Barunka (name is a pet form of Barbora) and her childhood with her grandmother in the countryside. The book was inspired by Němcová’s own childhood in the village of Ratibořice, where she lived with her parents, siblings and maternal grandmother Magdalena Novotna.

Fairy tales and legends

  • Chýše pod horami
  • O dvanácti měsíčkách
  • Národní báchorky a pověsti (National Stories and Legends)
  • Slovenské pohádky a pověsti (Slovak Fairy Tails and Legends)
  • Selská politika (Country Politics)
  • Hospodyně na slovíčko
  • Dopisy z lázní Františkových
  • Listy přítele přítelkyni
  • Silný Ctibor
  • Devět křížů (Nine Crosses)
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552 03 Česká Skalice
+420 491 451 285
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